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Jan 30, 1998

Family says others should be charged with Montes murder

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Also in Belize City members of the Montes family were adding the final touches to funeral arrangements for their son John, whose life ended violently last Saturday evening. But suspicious circumstances surrounding the affair were never far from their minds. According Irma Vernon, sister of the deceased, several eye witnesses have given the family a different version of the incident than that given to police by Slade Ramos who has been charged with the murder. Vernon says one witness, a lady who lives in La Democracia, told them that thirty four year old John Montes Junior had just finished helping her move some furniture and had gone out to the bus stop on the Western Highway to relax with some friends. Shortly after, she says, a fight broke out between Montes and Ramos and before long, a group of young men were beating up on her brother.

Irma Vernon, victim’s sister

“And then she told us that they were punching him, kicking him, hitting him and then she told us that every time they knocked him down he come back up. And he was fighting and she told us that a guy, a tall guy jumped in his chest and told him, you stay down, with the bad word and stomped him in his chest twice. and that was when he opened his mouth and his eyes, you know”

Vernon says this was when the attackers realized that Montes was dying and several attempts were made to revive him, all without success. Within a matter of minutes, he was dead.

But the family’s anguish doesn’t end there. Vernon says they are still trying to figure out why the police are saying that Montes fell down and hit his head on a bench and died, when Pathologist Dr. Mario Estradabran’s autopsy of the body revealed that he died of heart injuries.

Irma Vernon

“He came out when he was half way through his examination. He called us and he asked us if we knew, if we had any idea that John was hit in his chest … and then he told me that they must have pressed their foot in his chest because that caused the heart to burst and the heart started to bleed and that caused a trauma and he died … the doctor stated on the death certificate that John died from injuries to his heart. I don’t see how a man can drop, hit his head and yet die from injuries to his heart.”

Dr. Estradabran told News Five in a telephone interview this evening, that Montes had only bruises to his face and no other injuries to his body. Dr. Estradabran says Montes died of tamponade syndrome, a condition where the heart is ruptured and blood accumulates inside the sac around the organ. Estradabran says that it is his professional belief that only a severe blow to the chest area or a heavy person standing on the chest could have caused such a massive injury. Vernon is of the opinion that her brother’s death is the result of a two year old dispute between Montes and a relative of Slade Ramos. John Montes was laid to rest at Lord’s Ridge Cemetery this evening, following funeral services at Holy Redeemer. While only one person has been charged so far, police say they have noted the inconsistencies in the case and several other people are under investigation.

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